Waiting. I’ve never been a fan. But it seems I have a PhD in the art. Waiting for the results of infertility treatments, waiting for an offer for a job, waiting for a change in a relationship, waiting for a change in life.
When we’re feeling stuck in the waiting place, our culture says, “Get out of that rut! Life’s too short. Stop the excuses. Do something.” On the Huffington Post, you can find thirteen inspirational quotes for when you’re stuck in a rut. You’ll be told to smile more, care less, be happy, and think good thoughts. Elsewhere, you might find thirty quotes that will “most certainly get you out of any rut,” where you can read that you need to rise up and attack your day, and never give up.
Good advice, but sometimes change is outside our control, and we have no choice but to wait.
What then? Do we have to give up our hopes and dreams? Do we sit around, idle? How do we reclaim our hope, our wonder, our joy in Christ in the stuck-places of life?
It’s a question I’ve long wrestled with, but a few years ago my baby boy gave me a glimpse of what it means to live in the fullness of God in wait.
I finished feeding him, then plopped him into his playpen with his toys. Next I went about doing all the things I had to do. Meanwhile, Jayden chewed his rubber duckie, rattled his toy rattle, and pushed the button to make his stuffed dog sing the ABC song. As I passed by his playpen once, twice, three times, I began to notice something. Every time he caught a glimpse of me, he looked up, grinned, clapped his hands, and raised his arms. Finally, I stopped because his actions reminded me of worship.
Baby Jayden was stuck in his little playpen, and yet, even as he waited he was watching too, eager for a glimpse of the one who loved him, who was preparing the way for his growth, and who knew the right time to lift him out.
As I paused and picked him up, he laughed and clapped his hands some more. That was when I knew I needed to be a lot more like him. Instead of fretting in the playpens of life, I needed to keep watch for the One who provides, prepares, and loves. If I wanted to reclaim my dreams, I needed to put myself in a position to see God’s glory whenever he passed by. In Exodus 33:21-23, the Lord tells Moses, “Here is a place near me where you will stand beside the rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I’ll set you in a gap in the rock, and I’ll cover you with my hand….”
Moses was set in the cleft of a rock, and Jayden was put in the playpen, but they weren’t idle. They were active, engaged watchers-for-God. When we’re stuck in the in-between places of life, we need not be idle either. To see God’s glory, we need to keep an eye out for God working around us and in us.
God does his deepest work in the waiting rooms of life. Watch for him, and be ready to lift your arms to him.
Excerpted from Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timeline (Abingdon Press, 2016)